Powerlifter who wore XXXXL shirts sheds 13 stone and is now unrecognisable to friends

By Staff 10 Min Read

Luke Nesbitt was focused on being as ‘big as he could’ as a powerlifter squatting 250kg, but decided to make some changes after struggling to buy clothes and feeling worn out

A powerlifter who weighed 27 stone has transformed his lifestyle after losing half his bodyweight – and even his friends don’t recognise him.

Luke Nesbitt, 27, from Manningtree, Essex, works as a new product development technologist for a sushi manufacturer by day, but in his spare time, he was lifting massive barbells. Standing at 6ft1, he was able to deadlift 220kg, bench press 143kg and squat 250kg.

But the sportsman found himself getting out of breath easily and couldn’t find clothing that fit. He also wanted to get back into a team sport – football. After joining a local club, he also started shrinking his portion sizes and has dropped a massive 13 stone. Over the past two years, his family and friends have been floored by his transformation.

“Last year I was getting comments from close friends and they’d be noticing things,” Luke said. “Friends who I hadn’t seen for a while were shocked and I’ve had people say things like they didn’t recognise me.

“It can be quite motivating to hear that other people are noticing the changes.” Luke’s weight loss journey began just before the first Covid lockdown in February 2020.

He joined football group MAN v FAT, and started to play weekly matches. Before he joined, he weighed 27st 11lb and was focussed on powerlifting – a strength sport where participants attempt to lift the largest combined weight possible across three categories – squat, bench press and deadlift – and at his heaviest Luke was capable of heaving a combined 613kg.

While his weight loss was a “slow process” at first, Luke took up running alongside his weekly football games while controlling his meal portion sizes and found the weight began to drop quickly. By February 2024, Luke was down to 15st 1lb.

Luke, who described himself as “pretty outgoing” and said he has never really been “fazed” by his weight, met his partner, nursing student Ely, 21, in November 2023. Now, Luke has set his sights on bulking as he plans to build muscle using weights with a personal trainer.

Luke said: “I’ve not really followed a weight loss group before, I’ve always thought in my eyes that a lot of the times they don’t work. You’re missing certain things and, I know the way I am that I’d much rather eat things that I enjoy, so if I were to follow a diet where I’m not doing that, then I’m more likely to break from it and binge eat.

“I don’t like the idea of labelling food as a sin to punish yourself for eating what you enjoy, it won’t necessarily help in doing that because it makes you feel bad to do. Even now, my personal trainer doesn’t really care what I eat as long as I’m within my calorie range.”

Luke said he “feels a lot better” since losing weight and that he can now enjoy outdoor activities. “Now I can go on massively long walks without feeling worn out,” he said.

“I play a lot of football and don’t feel like it’s absolutely destroyed my body doing so.” One of the biggest differences for Luke is being able to buy new clothes in shops without worrying if they have his size.

“At one point I was in a four or five XL shirt and now I can wear mediums and larges,” he added. “Buying new clothes is a lot more accessible to me now.” He signed up to the MAN v FAT after spotting an advert on Facebook.

Aimed at men with a BMI of higher than 27.5, it has more than 8,000 players taking part at 150 clubs across the UK. At the sessions, players are weighed before taking part in a 30-minute game of six-a-side football, with extra goal bonuses awarded to teams based on their weight loss.

Weight loss and match scores then contribute to teams’ league positions within a club. Luke, who plays as a goalkeeper, said: “I’ve always found myself to be someone who is quite outgoing and, because I wanted to get back into football, I found it very easy to get into.

“Before I turned up, I was added into my team’s group chat and I got to speak to them before I joined. The guys running it are incredibly friendly and the team was a good bunch of lads.”

He added: “Before lockdown I was actually doing powerlifting in the gym and found that being quite heavy was beneficiary, but I wanted to get back into playing football, which I did when I was younger. I wanted to join my village football team and thought MAN v FAT could help.”

“Things at first were quite slow but after lockdown, I started getting into running as well and I noticed that I was losing a lot more weight,” he said. Luke started switching his diet too and noticed more changes in his weight.

Cutting down his portion sizes, Luke focused on adding protein into his meals and swapping large lunches for salads. A particular milestone for the 27-year-old was that, in August 2023, he was selected to take part in a special game for MAN v FAT played at Stoke City’s football ground. “Every year they do an ‘amazing losers match’ where the biggest losers in terms of weight loss for the year play,” he said.

“They have professional football managers come and manage the two teams and there’s 22 of us players plus subs.” Now, Luke is started to transition his fitness journey from weight loss into bulking as he hopes to build muscle using weights with the help of a personal trainer.

“With powerlifting, the heavier you are, the more you can lift, but now I’m trying to get more of an aesthetic look than trying to be as big as possible,” he said.

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